Hello and welcome to my blog! My name is Jaime, and I am a Peace Corps trainee in Zambia. In just 6 short weeks, I hope to become a fully-fledged volunteer.
I have been in-country for about 5 weeks now, and Zambia is a wonderful place. It’s the dry season, so everything is dusty and brown, but the trees are starting to put on flowers and new leaves in anticipation of the rain. I live in a one room thatched mud hut, I bathe out of a bucket, and I help my host family cook over a braizier.
My host family is incredibly friendly and welcoming, and I love playing with the children. Every evening when I get home from training we do something together. Sometimes I will bring out coloring books and markers, and the whole family will sit on reed mats and color together. A few days ago I taught all of the kids how to throw a frisbee, and we spent an hour playing catch. My favorite evening passtime, though, has been dancing.
In Zambia, it seems like everyone dances: there is never anybody standing awkwardly in a corner watching. So, when I got home from training one night and the girls ambushed me and tied a scarf around my hips, I knew I was in for some fun. The group of twelve children stood in two lines, facing each other. Someone found an empty oil jug and started drumming out a rhythm, and soon everyone was chanting and singing. Then one person from each line stepped forward and began dancing, with a great deal of hip-popping and shaking. When they had finished their verse or so of center stage, that pair would step back into line, and it was the next pair’s turn. I did my best to follow what my partner was doing, but I’m sure that even the five-year-old was moving her hips better than I was. So, with a lot of laughing and giggling, mostly at my expense, I managed to learn a couple of dances.
The next night, the kids waited patiently for me to bathe, then it was dance time again! We did the same dances as the night before, but then I asked if they would like to learn some American dances. To a chorus of “yes”es and excited hand clapping, I began to (try) to show them the electric slide, after warning them that we move our feet more when we dance than they do. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, especially the kicking part. There was definitely a side competition over who could kick the highest. But, regardless, with one dance under my belt I decided it was time to pull out all the stops. So chirping, flapping, and wiggling my way into dancing fame, I taught them the Chicken Dance. There is nothing as heartwarming and funny as a group of about twenty kids and adults all trying, with shrieks of laughter, to remember whether chirp or flap comes first. And the wiggling was, obviously, their favorite part. After that day, we did the chicken dance every night for a week, and even now the kids will randomly come up to me and start flapping their arms. I think perhaps my next move will have to be the hokey-pokey. Or maybe the macarena….